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Scholar profile. Wayne Dredge

Scholar profile. Wayne Dredge

Nuffield scholar report: fishing for innovation

Victorian commercial fisher and Nuffield Scholar Wayne Dredge has long known that Australian fishermen are amongst the most technologically advanced, innovative and environmentally conscious of any in the world.

But increasing environmental, economic and operational pressures prompted Mr Dredge to investigate how Australian fisheries management authorities could better allow industry to innovative and adapt to changing circumstances, while maintaining the environmental, economic and social integrity of local fisheries.

The 2014 Nuffield Scholar is the owner and operator of a commercial fishing business and said in recent year’s interactions between fishing boats and Australian sea lions and dolphins resulted in significant special closures for the Gillnet Hook and Trap (GHaT) fishery in Commonwealth fishing grounds.

“This wasn’t the only restriction, and given that the closure of available fishing grounds generally corresponds with decreased catches I originally wanted to identify other fishing techniques that may be implemented that would reduce marine mammal interactions, allow previously closed areas to be reopened to fishing and improve the overall economic efficiency of the industry,” Mr Dredge said.

“However in undertaking this research it became apparent that while there are long line methods and other fishing techniques which could be utilised effectively in my local fisheries, current management or regulatory arrangements often prohibit them.

“This makes entry into the fishery extremely difficult as using such fishing methods would most likely cause conflict with other state or commonwealth fishing sectors.”

Wayne Dredge’s Nuffield Scholarship, supported by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and Woolworths Australia, allowed him to travel to 20 different countries to investigate international fishing methods and their impact on marine mammal interactions (MMIs), international fisheries management, and barriers to technology and investment in fishing.

Mr Dredge said that the fishing landscape is a highly competitive environment, and those in the industry must be united in their approach when looking to future advancements.

“Given the relatively low production volumes of seafood that Australia accounts for, it can easily be forgotten just how important Australian fish and fishermen are to global food production and food security,” he said.

“Throughout the course of my scholarship, I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the world’s most respected marine and fisheries scientists, leaders in fishery management practices, fishermen from over twenty different countries, policy makers from Brussels to Washington and some of the world’s most successful seafood businesses.

“Through all the research I have done throughout the course of my scholarship I believe Australian fisherman are amongst the most technologically advanced, innovative and environmentally conscious of any in the world, however in a continually changing regulatory environment we also need to become more adaptive to community expectations and accountable for our practices.”

Mr Dredge feels there are many hurdles for industry innovation from both an operational and management level.

“It is my hope that the experiences I have gained by undertaking this scholarship may allow me to provide some positive input for Australian commercial fishing in the future.”

Nuffield Australia provides opportunities to Australian primary producers and managers to travel the globe investigating a research topic important to them and Australian agriculture. Scholars are provided with a $30,000 bursary to embark on a 16-week program consisting of both group and individual travel over a two-year period. The application period is currently open, and closes June 30 2016. For more information, please head to

Location: Lakes Entrance, Victoria
Operation: Wayne Dredge is a commercial fisherman working in the Tasmanian and Victorian Southern Rock Lobster Fisheries and the Commonwealth Southern Shark Fishery. As owner/operator of the “Opal Star”, Wayne spends six to eight months a year at sea harvesting from state and commonwealth managed fisheries.

Mobile: 0409 950 497
Returning scholar presentation (video):
Innovating, Adapting & Mitigating Risk in Fisheries

Wayne Dredge is sponsored by:

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